By Arnold Kling, NJSpotlight.com
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would like to improve the way that teachers are compensated. He wants to get away from the rigid, credentials-based and tenure-protected system that exists today. Instead, he proposes to convene a task force that will "be charged with recommending a system that elevates the role of student learning in evaluations and fairly and transparently assesses teacher and principal performance."
The current approach to compensation in primary education certainly is flawed. Quality teaching does not come from credentials. Instead, good teachers make themselves, through relentless effort at self-improvement. Seniority is not a meaningful indicator: some teachers use their years of experience to learn and grow; others merely stagnate.
So, yes, the formulas for compensation that are in use today fail to reward good teachers or to provide incentives for teachers to get better. But, no, the answer is not to put new factors into the formulas.
If you look around at the private sector, you will see very few professionals whose compensation is driven by a formula. Think of middle managers at large firms, for example. Like teachers, middle managers are faced with multi-faceted jobs, complex environments in which to make decisions, significant interactions with other people, and effects on outcomes that are hard to measure in the context of other factors.
In this environment, how do large organizations choose to compensate middle managers?
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